New Delhi, Jan. 9: Information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad earned himself a crash course in arithmetic through Sunday along with the charge of inflating numbers to glorify the demonetisation exercise.
Caught out, he was forced to issue a correction to his tweet that had claimed a windfall for farmers selling their produce online through e-NAM, the agriculture ministry's pan-India electronic trading platform for farm commodities.
"DoYouKnow that farmers in India are getting benefits of selling their produce online," Prasad had tweeted yesterday.
An image of a happy couple peering into a laptop in the middle of a field accompanied the tweet, as did a graphic that claimed "1.13 lakh tonnes of agriculture produce worth Rs 6.13 lakh crore have been transacted on the e-NAM platform".
Under attack, Prasad, who was recently lampooned for saying the Prime Minister is "pure as the Ganga", posted another tweet today.
"Corrections in eNAM growth figures! So far 31.13 lakh tonnes of agriculture produce of Rs 6130 cr have been transacted on eNAM," he posted.
Information technology ministry officials sought to blame the agriculture ministry for the mistake, but it turned out that a media report had earlier cited the same numbers as Prasad's original tweet.
This, when the agriculture ministry had in its year-ender briefing put out the official figures for e-NAM transactions.
No sooner had Prasad posted his tweet yesterday than the numerically inclined in the Twitterverse had worked out that his numbers entailed an average Rs 54,247.78 per kilogram of farm produce.
It prompted some to wonder what the minister "was smoking" or whether it was legal to sell opium on a sarkari platform.
Some wanted to know which crops gave such a high return. "I will leave everything and start growing that," a tweet said.
Aam Aadmi Party social media head Ankit Lal took a swipe at the minister: "Seems like @rsprasad was paid a visit by @bsmajithia recently."
Majithia is a Shiromani Akali Dal minister from Punjab whom the Enforcement Directorate has questioned in a drug and money-laundering case. The Akali Dal is a BJP ally at the Centre and in Punjab.
After Prasad deleted his tweet, Lal was back with another taunt: "Why did @rsprasad delete this tweet? Did someone catch him pants down fudging data to glorify #DeMonetisation?"
Swaraj Abhiyan founder Yogendra Yadav called Prasad's original tweet the "joke of the new year" and demanded an apology from the minister for misleading the nation on a platform that has become the government's preferred mode of communication.